Stories of Abstraction: Contemporary Latin American Art in the Global Context
October 1, 2020 – January 31, 2021
Located in the Steele Gallery
Stories of Abstraction: Contemporary Latin American Art in the Global Context presents rarely seen artworks by some of Latin America’s most innovative contemporary artists to uncover how abstraction can be used to generate new narratives, insightful social commentary, and even political change.
About the Exhibition
Showcasing more than 40 recently acquired works of contemporary Latin American art alongside 30 works by American and European artists, Stories of Abstraction: Contemporary Latin American Art in the Global Contextexplores how the visual language of abstraction has generated profound insights into Latin American culture and politics and how Latin American artists have drawn on abstraction’s parallel history in the United States and Europe.
The exhibition includes contemporary Latin American artworks from Venezuela, Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Colombia, Brazil, Honduras, and Guatemala by 25 of the most innovative artists working in Latin America in recent years and today, including seven women artists. These works were recently gifted to Phoenix Art Museum by Nicholas Pardon, cofounder of the former SPACE Collection—the largest collection of post-1990s abstract Latin American art in the United States.
By providing an overview of post-1990s abstraction from various geographies in Latin America, Stories of Abstractionilluminates how contemporary Latin American artists use abstract art to convey specific emotions, stories, and ideas related to key social issues. Featured works also address the ways in which artwork lacking figuration or recognizable characters can generate new narratives, insightful commentary, and even political change.
To historically contextualize these contemporary Latin American works, Stories of Abstraction incorporates those by artists of an earlier generation from the United States, the Americas, and Europe, such as Alexander Calder, Pedro Friedeberg, Agnes Martin, Carlos Mérida, Hélio Oiticica, Frank Stella, Bridget Riley, and Jesús Rafael Soto, to highlight their influence on post-1990 Latin American abstractionists and to underscore that abstraction in Latin America didn’t develop independently; rather its genesis is inextricably tied to the region’s history of colonialism. The exhibition’s artworks by contemporary U.S. artists working in abstraction, including those based in Phoenix, further address how abstraction continues to develop and unfold in a global context.